Places for disabled children to be axed

PLACES for some disabled children in mainstream schools are set to be axed due to lack of demand.

Twelve transitional places for youngsters with speech and communication needs at Thornhill Junior and Infants could go by September.

Kirklees Council’s cabinet agreed at a meeting last week to consult with affected families.

A four-week consultation is expected to be launched in July and a decision taken by August for implementation on September 1.

Transitional places are for up to six terms for children who need extra help beyond outreach programmes.

Two schools in South Kirklees are affected, with transitional places to be run from a central hub.

Support will remain for children with autism at Headlands Junior, Infant and Nursery School in Dewsbury and Thornhill Community Academy.

A report said there is a lack of demand for extra help for children with speech and communication needs.

The support, which is separate from day-to-day school activity, is as a result deemed an ineffective use of staff time.

It would be better, the report added, to place all children together, rather than spread across Kirklees.

This would be at an as-yet-undecided hub school, where pupils with other disabilities, such as autism, are also supported.

Governors at Thornhill Junior and Infants were said in the report to have backed the plan.

The report said: “In the case of Thornhill J&I School, there has been no take-up of transitional places.

“Existing pupils attending transitional places at schools will be funded in future as all other high needs pupils in mainstream schools.

“Top-up funding will be allocated according to their needs and outreach support will be available from the new centralised outreach service.”

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